What’s delaying BTS selling?
This year’s back-to-school (BTS) period is suffering from procrastination. The causes, according to shoppers, are varied, ranging from wanting to see what is trend-right to waiting for the best deals to arrive.
According to the NRF’s annual Back-to-School Shopping Survey, the average family with children in grades K-12 had completed only 45 percent of their shopping as of early August. That’s down from a peak of 52 percent at the same time in 2013 and 48 percent last year, and the lowest level since 40 percent in 2012.
Of parents surveyed August 1 to 9, only 13 percent had completed all their shopping, and 23 percent had not started at all. The results stand in the face of earlier data showing that 27 percent of parents said they planned to start shopping at least two months before the start of school this year, up from 22 percent last year.
Not surprisingly, shoppers give the same reasons for the delays as those heard earlier in the decade when the trend first occurred:
- Hitting trends: Consumers are postponing purchases of apparel, backpacks and footwear until kids see what’s trendy this fall;
- Waiting on deals: Much like the holiday selling period, some consumers are holding out until the biggest discounts arrive late in the season, particularly on big-ticket items like laptops;
- Closer to need: The generally hot weather across the country works against the buy-now-wear-now trend for many BTS wearables (outerwear, sweaters, etc.), and stocking up on school supplies can also wait until classes start.
Other reasons given in the past for some of the delays have been: general consumer caution, later school start dates, and needing to find out about school requirements.
The changes are prompting retailers to extend BTS, the second-largest selling season after winter holiday. Some retailers are promoting as early as late June and sales continue through late September.
The early deals may be paying off. According to Deloitte’s 2017 Back-to-School survey, shoppers who start before August are likely to spend 16 percent more than those starting in August or later.
- More Parents Holding Off on Back-to-School Shopping – National Retail Federation
- Back-To-School And Back-To-College Spending To Reach $83.6 Billion – National Retail Federation
- 2017 back-to-school survey – Deloitte
- The surprising expenses of back-to-school shopping – USA Today
- It’s July, and retailers want you to think ‘back to school’ – USA Today
- These Days, It’s Back to School, Then Shopping – The New York Times
- Report: Parents Delay Back-to-School Shopping – Footwear News
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What’s delaying back-to-school purchasing? Should retailers begin promoting earlier in the season, delay them until shoppers are more ready to buy, or use a mixed approach?